Unless you have been living in a cave you know this is obviously not a serious post....but just roll with it K?
Udoka Azubuike was seemingly unstoppable and Devon Dotson looked like he was in no mood to have his senior season end prematurely as the Kansas Jayhawks rolled over the Minnesota Golden Gophers 72-58 in the Final Four, ending a dream run for Minnesota.
This recap was a long time coming, and it took a whole week to get over the fact that Minnesota’s Cinderella season is over with. What started with a blowout win over Northwestern culminated in unheard-of run through the Big Ten Tournament before an odd-defying and upset-ridden path through the NCAA Tournament. They slayed Louisville again, got much-needed revenge on Michigan State and defeated POTY and top-seed Dayton en route to the team’s second Final Four appearance. What a run.
From the jump it looked like the Gophers might have trouble, as Kansas ran out to a quick 12-2 lead, with Azubuike scoring the first 6 points of the game. Minnesota, cold out of the gate, missed its first seven shots before finally finding its footing. Still, a 35-25 halftime deficit looked insurmountable. The Gophers mustered a slight challenge midway through the second half, cutting the Jayhawk lead to 4 at 52-48, but the Kansas depth was just too much to handle and back-to-back Dotson three-pointers provided the ultimate blow. Dotson finished with a game-high 26 points, slicing up the Minnesota defense seemingly at will.
Daniel Oturu wasn’t outmatched, he finished with with 17 points and 15 rebounds. But he wasn’t able to hold perhaps the best player in the nation completely in check as Azubuike went for 19 points and 18 rebounds and adding 4 blocks.
The problem came down to shooting, a familiar foe for the Gophers, but one that they hadn’t seem pop up since before the Big Ten Tournament started. The backcourt had trouble getting going and, outside of Marcus Carr’s 14 points and Payton Willis’ 11, there wasn’t a ton of success to speak of. Minnesota needed its three-pointers to fall and that just wasn’t happening, and the Kansas offensive scheme was tough to derail. Kinda felt like the 1997 Final Four vs. Kentucky, ya know?
So, yes, it’s a gut punch, but it’s hard to get too down after a magical run like this. Perhaps it had to happen at some point? Certainly the Gophers were the talk of the tournament and the darling of March Madness. That’s not nothing!
Now, we head to the offseason. Daniel Oturu is almost certainly headed for the NBA, but the core of the team showed what it’s capable of, clearly, and give us hope for the coming years. We juiced this orange to its fullest extent, I’d say.
What. A. Ride.